Sharjah Biennial 13

Curated by Christine Tohme, Sharjah Biennial 13, Tamawuj unfolds in five parts from October 2016 through January 2018. Featuring over fifty international artists, the biennial encompasses exhibitions and a public programme in two acts in Sharjah and Beirut; a year-long education programme in Sharjah; projects in Dakar, Ramallah, Istanbul and Beirut; and an online publishing platform.

Tamawuj, a noun in Arabic which is defined as a rising and falling in waves, but also a flowing, swelling, surging, fluctuation or a wavy undulating appearance outline or form, is reflective of SB13’s aims to cultivate collaborations, infrastructures and strategies within Sharjah and the project localities. The Biennial poses questions around, and proposes answers to the conditions for the possibility of an art world. In a region currently being invested with larger institutions and lesser infrastructures, SB13 will cross from the ideal to the material. Vital interventions will stretch the idea of the biennial in order to traverse rooted contexts, harnessing the agility and fragility of present informal networks.

The five parts of SB13 are an online depository of research material, four projects curated by four Interlocutors outside of the UAE, a year-long education programme in Sharjah, a year-long online publishing platform and a public programme in two parts: Act I, the biennial exhibition and programme in Sharjah from March to June 2017, and Act II, the culmination of SB13 taking place in Beirut in October 2017.

Act II

The culinary off-site project Upon a Shifting Plate (14–15 October 2017) will be followed by SB13 Act II, the concluding exhibitions and performance programme of the Biennial. On 14 October, Act II will launch two exhibitions in Beirut, conceived by guest curators Reem Fadda and Hicham Khalidi and presented at the Sursock Museum and Beirut Art Center respectively.
In this final chapter of the Biennial, Reem Fadda takes the idea of dormancy, from sleep to digestion, and looks at an embodied experience in the evolution of a language of art that beckons for more. In her exhibition Fruit of Sleep, artists delve into the imaginative, harnessing the aesthetic, not neglecting the contemplative, but also using their art to respond to the urgencies and needs of the social.
Rather than asking for solutions and sketching utopias, Hicham Khalidi’s exhibition An unpredictable expression of human potential, seeks to respond to the present global moment, one in which a paradigmatic shift can be tasted in the air, where young people are frustrated and protesting against decisions imposed on them by older generations, sensitive to an inheritance they did not ask for and did not shape.

Act II features theatre and dance productions across the city, as well as film screenings, including new SB13 commissions. Commissioned books will also be launched during the opening week of Act II, together with a compilation of the publications released through SB13 in Beirut, Dakar, Istanbul, Ramallah and Sharjah.
Act II is co-organised by Sharjah Art Foundation and the Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts, Ashkal Alwan, a non-profit organisation based in Beirut. Since 1993, the association has been committed to the production, facilitation and circulation of creative and theoretical endeavours across a range of disciplines and media.

Act II Programme

To download Act II full programme, please click here.

Mapping the Stages of SB13, by Nancy Naser Aldeen


Sharjah Biennial 13 will take off with the launch of the SB13 School on October 15, 2016. The yearlong intensive education programme is designed to help local infrastructures in the western, central and eastern regions of the Emirate of Sharjah and empower their various communities. The free programme will be open to participants of all abilities and ages. An old farm in the central region of Sharjah will act as the headquarters of the school. The dense digital research platform Chip-ship will also launch on October 15, allowing fifteen artists to access research material inspiring new commissions for SB13’s Act I in Sharjah.

Four Interlocutors have been invited by Tohme to engage in an extended conversation with Sharjah, from specific sites within the broader region. Artist Kader Attia in Dakar, Senegal; curator Lara Khaldi in Ramallah, Palestine; Zeynep Oz in Istanbul, Turkey; and the Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts, Ashkal Alwan in Beirut, Lebanon.

These four Interlocutors will be working closely with researchers in the four cities, paired with counterparts in Sharjah. Together they will populate Chip-ship, a centralised digital storage space, housing various media, images, and texts, addressing the four keywords water, earth, crops and culinary. Each keyword also will correspond to a locality, which will host one of four consecutive programmes envisioned by the Interlocutors in Dakar (January 8, 2017) around the theme of water; Istanbul (May 13, 2017) around the theme of crops; Ramallah (August 10, 2017) around the theme of earth; and Beirut (October 15, 2017) around the theme of culinary. A yearlong online publishing platform will host articles, media and essays responding to the four keywords; four consecutive compendia will be released coinciding with the start of each of the four off-site projects.


October 15, 2016:
Launch of SB13 School, a year-long educational programme taking place in Sharjah.

Launch of Chip-ship, a digital research platform.

January 8, 2017:
Off-site project in Dakar (around the keyword of water).

March 10 - 14, 2017:
Opening of Sharjah Biennial 13 Act I, featuring the SB13 exhibition and programme in Sharjah; exhibition runs through June 12, 2017.

May 13, 2017:
Off-site project in Istanbul (around the keyword of crops).

August 10, 2017:
Off-site project in Ramallah (around the keyword of earth).

October 14, 2017:
Off-site project in Beirut (around the keyword of culinary).

October 16, 2017:
Sharjah Biennial 13 Act II, culminating exhibitions and programmes in Beirut.

Professional Registration

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About Sharjah Biennial

Sharjah Biennial is organised by Sharjah Art Foundation, which brings a broad range of contemporary art and cultural programmes to the communities of Sharjah, the UAE and the region. Since 1993, Sharjah Biennial has commissioned, produced and presented large-scale public installations, performances, and films, offering artists from the region and beyond an internationally recognised platform for exhibition and experimentation.

For more information about Sharjah Biennial please click here.

SB13 Commissioning Circle

Sharjah Biennial 13 Commissions have kindly been supported by:-

HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Haleema Al Owais, Sheikh Sultan Saood Al Qassemi, Maysoune Ghobash and Shobha Pia Shamdsani.

Mohammed Afkhami, Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Al Serkal and Olivier Mestalan.